Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power
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Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power

Roger D. Masters

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eBook - ePub

Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power

Roger D. Masters

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In recent years, Niccolò Machiavelli's works have been viewed primarily with historical interest as analysis of the tactics used by immoral political officials. Roger D. Masters, a leading expert in the relationship between modern natural sciences and politics, argues boldly in this book that Machiavelli should be reconsidered as a major philosopher whose thought makes the wisdom of antiquity accessible to the modern (and post-modern) condition, and whose understanding of human nature is superior to that of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, or Mill. Central to Masters's claim is his discovery, based on previously untranslated documents, that Machiavelli knew and worked with Leonardo da Vinci between 1502-1507. An interdisciplinary tour de force, Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power will challenge, perplex, and ultimately delight readers with its evocative story of the relationship between Machiavelli and da Vinci, their crucial roles in the emergence of modernity, and the vast implications this holds for contemporary life and society.

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Informazioni

Anno
2016
ISBN
9780268160111

Notes

Introduction

1. Letter, Leo Strauss to Alexandre Kojevnikoff (Kojève), 22 August 1948, in Leo Strauss, On Tyranny, Including the Strauss-Kojève Correspondence, ed. Victor Gourevitch and Michael S. Roth (New York: Free Press, 1991), 237.
2. The answer to this question depends to some degree on Machiavelli’s motives for remaining silent with regard to Leonardo. As I show, this reticence extends to Machiavelli’s refusal to mention his own role in the projects on which he consulted Leonardo. For the detailed hypotheses explaining their relationship, see Appendix III.
3. This question is especially important because Machiavelli seems to use each animal in a very different way than Leonardo, who compiled a “Bestiary” of traits observed in various animal species: see Leonardo da Vinci, Notebooks, ed. Jean Paul Richter (New York: Dover, 1970), 2.315–334, and below, chapter 7.
4. For a fuller justification of this claim, see Roger D. Masters, The Nature of Politics (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989).
5. Adam Kuper, The Chosen Primate (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994); Leon Kass, The Hungry Soul (New York: Free Press, 1994).
6. The question of selfishness and its relationship to power is more complex than is usually thought. On Machiavelli, see Russell Price, “Self-love, ‘Egoism’ and Ambizione in Machiavelli’s Thought,” History of Political Thought 9 (1988): 237–261. For the relationship between the traditional and contemporary scientific concepts, see Roger D. Masters, “Is Sociobiology Reactionary? The Political Implications of Inclusive Fitness Theory,” Quarterly Review of Biology 57 (1982): 275–292.
7. For the deepest expression of this view, see Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1958).

Chapter 1

1. “Decision concerning Leonardo da Vinci,” 4 May 1504, in Denis Fachard, Biagio Buonaccorsi: sa vie—son temps—son oeuvre (Bologna: Massimiliano Boni, 1976), 259–260. This document, which concerns the Signoria’s actions to ensure that Leonardo finish painting The Battle of Anghiari on the walls of the Grand Council Hall, was witnessed by Machiavelli and provides evidence that the careers of Machiavelli and Leonardo intersected, though it leaves the nature of their interaction open (ibid., 129–130). For a translation of the full text, see Appendix 1.3.
2. Letter from Machiavelli to Giuliano Lapi, 20 September 1504 (Fachard, Biagio Buonaccorsi, 143). For the text, see Appendix 1.3 D. One of ninety-five letters that Machiavelli wrote between August and October 1504 concerning the projected diversion of the Arno, this text proves that Machiavelli was directly concerned with the engineering aspects of this attempt to defeat Pisa through technology rather than force. For the new design of the project by Berardi, which Machiavelli criticizes, see Figure 1.11. While it cannot be proven definitively that the “first diagram”—which Machiavelli prefers—was drawn by Leonardo (Figure 1.6), this letter as well as another cited in Fachard (p. 142) demonstrate that the comparison of fortune to a river (Prince, ch. 25) reflects Machiavelli’s political experience as an official in the Florentine Republic. On the importance of the discovery that the so-called “allegory” of dikes and banks can also be read as synecdoche, using an actual engineering project to stand for all human efforts to control nature through technology and science, see chapter three below.
3. For the distinction between “modern” and “ancient or medieval” epochs in the West, see Roger D. Masters, Beyond Relativism (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1993). It is worth noting, at the outset, that the words “antichi e modernj” were used in a similar way by both Leonardo and Machiavelli (Carlo Pedretti, Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci [Berkeley: University of California, 1977], 1.350). Like Machiavelli in politics, moreover, in his Treatise on Painting Leonardo recommends the imitation of ancient examples rather than modern ones (Notebooks, ed. J. P. Richter [New York: Dover, 1970], 1.244).
4. See the collection of essays in Leonardo da Vinci: Aspects of the Renaissance Genius, ed. Morris Philipson (New York: George Braziller, 1966). On science, perhaps the most valuable single study is Ernst Cassirer, The Individual and the Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy, trans. Mario Domandi (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1963). See also Pierre Duhem, “De l’accélération produit par une force constante,” Congrès Internationale de Philosophie, 2nd session (Geneva, 1904), 3.514ff. and Etudes sur Léonard de Vinci, vol. 3 (Paris: Herman, 1913); Paul Valéry, Introduction to the Method of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. Thomas McGreevy (London: John Rodker, 1929); Boris Kouznetsov, “The Rationalism of Leonardo da Vinci and the Dawn of Classical Science,” Diogenes 69 (1970): 1–11; John Herman Randall, Jr., “The Place of Leonardo da Vinci in the Emergence of Modern Science,” Journal of the History of Ideas 14 (1953): 191–202; Jacob Klein, Lectures and Essays (Annapolis: St. John’s University Press, 1985); Alexandre Koyré, Galileo Studies, trans. John Mepham (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1978), esp. Part 2.
5. On the premodern elements in Machiavelli, see J. G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975); Jack H. Hexter, On Historians (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979); Anthony J. Parel, The Machiavellian Cosmos (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992); Jacob Burkhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, vol. 1 (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1958); Sebastian de Grazia, Machiavelli in Hell (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989); Sammy Basu, “In a Crazy Time the Crazy Come Out Well: Machiavelli and the Cosmology of His Day,” History of Political Thought 11 (1990): 213–239. On Machiavelli’s own claim to radical novelty, see Discourses, I, Preface, ed. Bernard Crick (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), 97; The Prince, ch. 14, ed. Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 61; Florentine Histories, trans. Laura F. Banfield and Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988), 8; Mandragola, trans. Mera J. Flamenhaft (Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland, 1981), 9, all of which are analyzed in detail in chapter two below. Cf. Machiavelli’s assertion that he is “departing from the usual practice of authors” (Discourses, Dedicatory Letter, ed. Crick, 94–95). Citations in the text will be to these editions. Throughout this book, I take the liberty of adding italics in order to capture Machiavelli’s intonation and emphasis.
6. My analysis is based on a preliminary study of Leonardo’s Notebooks and a sampling of the immense secondary literature on Leonardo; the account that follows can hardly claim to be definitive. In the edition of Leonardo’s Notebooks edited by Irma Richter (New York: Penguin, 1980), for example, Machiavelli is referred to in editorial notes (pp. 348, 350), but nowhere do these notes refer to specific texts. As I will show below, however, there does exist the draft of a letter to “Messer Niccolò” that some scholars believe was intended for Machiavelli.
7. This absence is particularly notable in Machiavelli’s dispatches to the Signoria of 1502/3—the so-called Legazioni al Duca Valentino (for the most extensive English excerpts, see Machiavelli, Chief Works, trans. Allan Gilbert [Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1965], 1.121–60; for the complete text, Machiavelli, Legazioni, Commissarie. Scritti di Governo, ed. Fredi Chiappelli [Rome: Gius. Laterza & Figli, 1973], 2.192–401; for selections, Opere, ed. Mario Bonfantini [Milan: Riccardo Ricciardi, 1958], 438–446; Machiavelli, The Prince, ed. Robert M. Adams [New York: W. W. Norton, 1977], 83–92). Machiavelli also describes these events without mentioning Leonardo in the Descrizione del Modo tenuto dal Duca Valentino nello ammazzare Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermo, il Signor Pagolo et il Duca di Gravina Orsini (Opere, 457–464; translation in The Prince, ed. W. K. Marriott [Everyman’s Library; London: Dent, 1938], 219–239 or Chief Works, 1.163–169) as well as in the famous chapter seven of The Prince (ed. Mansfield, 25–33). I will return to the puzzle of Machiavelli’s silence concerning Leonardo, which may be clarified by the diplomatic reports from Cesare’s court in which Machiavelli refers to one of Cesare’s “chief secretaries” and an unnamed “friend,” either of whom could have been Leonardo.
8. Vasilii Zubov, Leonardo da Vinci (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968), 90, 166–167, 229, 225–226; Cesare Laporini, Le Mente di Leonardo (Firenzi: G. C. Sansone, 1953), 5, 30, 55, 137, 160, 174. One scholar has even noted similarities in their writing: Girolamo Calvi, I Manuscritti di Leonardo de Vinci (Bologna: Nicola Zanichelli, 1928), 3–4, 7.
9. On the relationship between Machiavelli and Leonardo, see E. Solmi, “Leonardo e Machiavelli,” Archivio storico lombardo 17 (1912): 231, and the critique by Fachard, Biagio Buonaccorsi, 129–130: “il n’est pas à exclure que Leonardo et Machiavelli aient eu quelques contacts occasionels . . . mais . . . le manque de preuves . . . nous font fortement douter d’une étroit collaboration entre les deux hommes.” Cf. Carlo Pedretti, Studi vinciani (Geneve: E. Droz, 1957), 17: “Nessun documento può con sicurezza i rapporti di amicizia fra Machiavelli e Leonardo, ma le circostanze sono favorevoli per avvalornarne l’ipotesi.” In later works, it should be noted, Pedretti provides considerable evidence of a close friendship: see Pedretti’s Leonardo da Vinci: The Royal Palace at Romorantin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972), 32–33, 39, 297–301; Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style (London: Thames and Hudson, 1973; reprint, N.Y.: Johnson Reprint, 1982), esp. ch. 1; Leonardo: Architect (New York: Rizzoli, 1981), esp. 15, 55, 174, 179, 188, 205. On the milieu, see Felix Gilbert, “Florentine Political Assumptions in the Age of Savonarola and Soderini,” Journal of the Warberg Cultural Institute 20 (1957), and Machiavelli and Guiccardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth-Century Florence (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1965); John H. Najemy, Between Friends: Discourses of Power and Desire in the Machiavelli-Vettori Letters of 1513–1515 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993).
10. Giorgio de Santillana, “Man without Letters,” in Philipson, Leonardo da Vinci: Aspects of the Renaissance Genius, 190; Kenneth Clark, Leonardo da Vinci: An Account of His Development as an Artist (New York: Macmillan, 1939), 133–134. For the final judgment of Carlo Pedretti, see Literary Works, 2.51: “In 1502 Leonardo was in the service of Cesare Borgia with the title of ‘Architecto e Ingegnero Generale’, and with the task of supervising the fortifications in Romagna. He must have had frequent occasions to talk with Machiavelli, especially in the autumn of 1502 in Imola.” At this point, Pedretti also notes the parallel between Leonardo’s innovative conception for fortifications that could withstand the new artillery and the designs proposed by Machiavelli in The Art of War (ibid., esp. note 1).
11. For a thoughtful comparison of the two that does not rest on evidence of personal acquaintance, see Giovanni Gentile, “The Thought of Leonardo,” in Leonardo da Vinci, ed. Istituto Geografico d’Agostino (New York: Reynal, 1956), 163.
12. Written documents from the early sixteenth century often fail to provide evidence of people or events we know occurred. Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks apparently nowhere mention his teacher Verrocchio, though Leonardo spent his formative years working in Verrocchio’s bottega and was greatly influenced by him. See Serge Bramly, Leonardo: Discovering the Life of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. Siân Reynolds (New York: Edward Berlingame Books, 1991), 69. Conversely, Biagio Buonaccorsi, Machiavelli’s friend and assistant in the Signoria, “n’est jamais cité dans l’oeuvre littéraire de Machiavelli” (Fachard, Biagio Buonaccorsi, 13, 157). Moreover, Machiavelli fails to mention his own role in events which, in at least two cases of his probable relationship with Leonardo, are cited in Machiavelli’s published works. Critics need to take into account Machiavelli’s extraordinary caution in naming individuals and events in which he himself was involved. In the famous correspondence between Machiavelli and Vettori, for example, compare Machiavelli’s oblique description of the fall of Soderini in 1512 with Vettori’s explicit mention of his own role in saving Soderini’s life (Najemy, Between Friends, 89–90). For specific reasons that could explain Machiavelli’s silence about Leonardo, see below, especially Appendix III.
13. Although de Grazia notes correctly that “from the beginning to the end of his career, the Florentine Secretary is immersed in military affairs” (Machiavelli in Hell, 93), and cites Machiavelli’s statement that the art of war is “the sole art that one expects of he who commands” (272), de Grazia’s own analysis of The Art of War is limited to a few scattered remarks (e.g., 65, 82, 93, 97, 210, 284, 367).
14. The best biography is Bramly’s Leonardo. I have relied for additional perspectives on a number of more specialized works cited in the following notes; in a number of places, I have followed Pedretti’s Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style in clarifying or correcting otherwise problematic dates. It is also useful to consult the fictionalized but carefully resear...

Indice dei contenuti

  1. Cover
  2. Half title
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. Illustrations
  8. Introduction
  9. One Leonardo and Machiavelli
  10. Two On Reading Machiavelli’s Prince
  11. Three Machiavelli’s Science of Human Nature
  12. Four Using the Beast: Animal Dominance and Human Leadership
  13. Five Using the Man: The Biological Nature of the State
  14. Six Political Leadership, Emotion, and Communication
  15. Seven Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Emergence of Modernity
  16. Conclusion
  17. Appendix I: Documents from Machiavelli’s Association with Leonardo da Vinci
  18. Appendix II: Machiavelli’s Letters
  19. Appendix III: Why Doesn’t Machiavelli Speak of Leonardo?
  20. Notes
  21. Index
Stili delle citazioni per Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power

APA 6 Citation

Masters, R. (1996). Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power ([edition unavailable]). University of Notre Dame Press. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/856295/machiavelli-leonardo-and-the-science-of-power-pdf (Original work published 1996)

Chicago Citation

Masters, Roger. (1996) 1996. Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power. [Edition unavailable]. University of Notre Dame Press. https://www.perlego.com/book/856295/machiavelli-leonardo-and-the-science-of-power-pdf.

Harvard Citation

Masters, R. (1996) Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power. [edition unavailable]. University of Notre Dame Press. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/856295/machiavelli-leonardo-and-the-science-of-power-pdf (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Masters, Roger. Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power. [edition unavailable]. University of Notre Dame Press, 1996. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.